Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: The Knightshade

Tags: #Character Build Knight  #Character Build Illusionist  #Character Build Vampire  #Rank:Recognized 
  • July 7, 2015

    The Knightshade

    For my first build I wanted to create a variation of the honorable and trustfull knight, merging it with the power and the ruthlessness of a vampire lord. I liked the idea of a noble warrior that, unwillingly, after he destroyed a vampire lair, becomes himself one of those abominations he has sworn to fight. So, he has to struggle against his own moral code to survive, looking for a compromise between his bloodthirst and those he feels like his dutyes.

    This build is massively based on Dawnguard content, so the Dlc is necessay.

    Every comment or constructive criticism is needed and well accepted. Let’s get into the thing:


    “I swear I’ll fight with honor” I said. “I’ll offer my protection to the weak, bring the justice around Tamriel, fight the monsters that haunt the darkest nights”

    I was a fool. And now I pay the price for my pride. I’ll fail my oath.

    After I arrived in Morthal, I offered to the Jarl my help in the investigation about the mysterious death of a woman and her daughter in a house fire. I couldn’t even imagine the consequences of my choice. I uncovered the plot of Movarth, an ancient vampire master, ready to enslave the whole city to satisfy his bloodthirst.

    I made my way in his lair, and after a harsh fight I managed to bring him down and stab him with my greatsword. But I wasn’t ready for what came after: I was defeated by an enemy against whom every sword, every armor and every martial skill were totally unuseful. The Sanguinare Vampiris wasted my flesh, obscured my eyes, and I can’t even blame those who weren’t brave enough to bring me to a healer, because I was becoming the the monster I saved them from.

    The third night I woke up, as the fever was gone. I noticed a deeper vision in the dark. Nothing was colder than my pale hands. So began my journey in desperation, searching for a cure, despised and feared by many, and hating myself for the thirst growing both in my body and in my damned soul.

    I had heard before of Dawnguards, so I went disguised to their headquarters, looking for the knowledge to regain my humanity. In Dimhollow crypt, instead of answers I found something that caught me unprepared. Serana has been the first showing a bit of empathy to me, from the day I contracted the vampirism. Even if I know her from a few hours, I feel really tied to her, as i never felt before. I’ll protect her. Even if it means to join her clan, to share her blood. Even a life in the darkness can’t be totally evil.

    While we travel to her house I can’t  prevent myself to watch the Elder Scroll she brings with her.. Maybe the answers I seek are not so far…

    The build

    Race: Nords, Imperials or Bretons are good choices, as knights and paladins are relatively common in their respective culture, but even redguards or dark elves are not bad. For the skillset probably Imperials are the most well suited, but i tend to prefer bretons due to their magic resistance.

    Stats: 2 Magicka, 3 Health, 2 Stamina.

    Major Skills: Two-Handed, Heavy Armor, Illusion

    Minor Skills: Restoration, Sneak, Enchanting

    Stone: try to get the Lover stone as soon as you can, then, in the middle-late game pass to the Lord or the Ritual, the one that suits more your playstile.

    Shouts: Marked for Death, Aura Wisper, Soul Tear, Drain Vitality, Summon Durnehviir, Become Ethereal.


    The gameplay of this build is strongly related to the roleplay aspect, so those sections are merged together. The development of the character is divided in two phases: in the first one, that lasts until around level 20, you play an average knight\crusader, not too different from the class as it appears in Oblivion: so you rely on your greatsword for all your damage output, on heavy armor for protection, with the addition of some perk dedicated to Restoration, just to keep you alive and for dealing with the undead. In this phase the use of Illusion is limited to calm and rally spells, as fear, frenzy, and invisibility are not really honorable in combat. While rally spells can enhance the martial prowess of your equerry (most knights have one), calm spells can be used in order to fight your enemies one by one, without renounce to your honor. Your disposition matches your skills: you’ll be honest and proud, help those who suffer, while avoiding theft, and in general breaking the law. Offer your aid to the commoner and to the jarl, try to become Thane of some hold to emphasize your nobility, and stuff like that.

    After you contracted Vampirism, the full potential of this build is revealed: the gameplay has deep changes, such as your morality. In summary, you realize that your abilities are not enough if you want to survive as a vampire; in the while, you grow conscious of your new powers and weaknesses. So, our knight starts a new, darker, path… He becomes the Knightshade, a shadow of his former glory but also a dark terror in the night, bringing fear and mourn to his foes.

    During the day you can’t anymore rush in and fight your enemies because the sunlight now weakens you, so you can’t rely on endurance and pure strenght to put up a fight without the risk of running out of stamina. Consequently you’ll have to learn how to go unnoticed or become literally invisible, or trick your foes into fighting each other, through the advanced techniques of Sneak and Illusion: this may not be honorable, but Skyrim is already full of honorable corpses. You’ll also know that, when you swallow your pride and admit that your own power isn’t enough, you can find it in enchanted items throughout Skyrim: understanding and controlling this form of magic will save your life more than once.

    For roleplay purposes, after I become a vampire gave up using healing spells: as they don’t affect the undead, I tought that would have been more lore-friendly contrive another way to recover health. So came out one of the most important aspects of this build: being a vampire you can heal yourself only through the blood of your victims. This causes many regrets and torments to you, but your survival instinct sometimes will reveal stronger than your honor. So you try to help the people of skyrim, as often as you can, with a mixture of sense of duty, guilt trip and envy for their human life. In terms of gameplay I decided to heal myself only through vampiric drain and a weapon enchanted with the strongest drain health enchantment I could find or perform. It resulted in an interesting fighting style, very aggressive, focused on fast hits and continuous dodging, as you haven’t much time to block. Restoration will be used for keeping the (others) undead at bay and for wards, that are lifesavers against dragon breaths, but mainly will be important for the necromage perk, that will boost the effects of enchantments on you, and the two levels of respite that will grant you a bit of magicka regeneration even during the day. So the gameplay will be divided in diurnal, stealthy and based on Illusion magic, and nocturnal, featuring direct combat.

    A brief note: someone contested the fact that every innkeeper in skyrim redirect you to Falion to cure your vampirism: so makes no sense staying a vampire, for a character that doesn’t want. I can’t do anything about that, for the roleplay is necessary to ignore them, maybe thinking that you wouldn’t go in a inn talking to everyone about the fact you’re a monster!

    Quests and factions

    The Knightshade is mainly a warrior, so it’s obvious for him to follow the Companions as soon as he gets in Whiterun. He won’t keep the beast blood, both for roleplay and gameplay reasons, as he wouldn’t be stained by a similar curse and the disease immunity would prevent him from contracting Sanguinare Vampiris. In the second part of the playtrought he may enter in the Winterhold college, but never become archmage as his magic capabilities are limited and more a support than a focus of this character. Thieves Guild is totally the opposite of Nightshade’s morality, as he uses stealth only to survive, surely not to grow rich. Dark Brotherhood is rather controversial for him: they murder in the dark, that’s right, but they are between the few in Skyrim that would accept him even if he’s a vampire; furthermore he may see in their methods a way to bring justice where the law can’t. He may kill or follow them, but anyway never kill someone stealthy, always walk in front of him and declare your intentions: it will be similar to a loyal duel, that fits a knightly character.

    The Knightshade’s life is a continuous research for a cure for his vampirism: so if necessary he can deal even with daedric princes, if the task they give him aren’t too shameful and can be a path for knowledge (but he never thought about asking a innkeeper. Definitely a genius. Or he’s simply paranoid.) So he will search his answers in the realm of Haermeus Mora and in the Elder Scrolls. Altough initially he will be interested in Dawnguards to get a cure (none will notice you’re a vampire when you first enter in Fort Dawnguard) he’ll join the Volkhiar clan for many reason: he can’t know that on every side of the questline he will get the elder scroll Serana brings with her, sometimes feeling accepted brighten even a vampire, and because of the deep empathy he feels for Serana (Vampire’s seduction? Or just seduction? We’ll never know).

    Completing the main quest suits enough the character, as it’s a knightly deed and he sees it’s a way to redeem himself.


    Armor is relatively important for this build: for the early game any heavy armor should be ok, I preferred the wolf armor as soon as I joined the companions, while in the late game I used the ebony mail (that suits perfectly the character, furthermore the muffle effect comes very handy) with custom enchanted ebony helmet and wolf gauntlets and boots for aesthetic reasons. For enchantments I used fortify two-handed, illusion, sneak and magicka regeneration variously scattered around the various pieces of equipment. A fortify destruction enchantment is also not bad, as it reduces the cost of the weapon’s enchantments, giving them more charges.

    As a weapon I used a nordic greatsword (love the appearance) enchanted with 25 absorb health, as it was my only healing method. For recharging, the black star is a great choice.


    Soul devourer

    Requirements: a weapon enchanted with the best absorb health avaible, Soul Tear, the Black Star.

    Description: The Knightshade can fight for a time that seems undefined, sustainig himself just with the blood and the vital energy he rips of from his foes; when it appears that he has lost all his energies, he raises his voice, capable to steal a man’s soul, and the fight is over.

    This strategy allows you to keep fighting until all your foes are dead without caring about health: every hit will heal you. There’s no need of high stamina, as many weaker hits mean more health for you. As soon as your weapon runs out of charge, you can use Soul Tear to fill the Black Star with the soul of an enemy, rising him immediatly afterwards, so that you’ll be ready to keep fighting.

    Gift of discord

    Requirements: Become ethereal, Mayhem (or just Frenzy), Shadow Warrior, Embrace of Shadows

    Description: The knightshade is a master of controlling his foes while remainig undetected: he can appear just as a spirit bringing fear and madness, just to disappear soon after leaving no tracks but the dying cries of his foes.

    This special move is suited to clean an area fullfilled of enemies, like a bandit camp or a forsworn’s one, expecially during the day, when you are too weak to openly face them. Approach the area using became ethereal to avoid the hits, but gathering together your foes in a relatively narrow space, then cast the Mayhem/Frenzy spell (that with the illusion perks provided in the buid should affect nearly everyone; with the Dragonborn DLC Frenzy Rune becomes a viable option) and crouch down in stealth mode, casting immediately Embrace of Shadows (you can use the Shadow stone power or simply invisibility, but the vampiric power has a very longer duration). Due to the Shadow Warrior perk, the enemies will immediately look for a new target, slaughtering each other while you sneak away, totally unharmed.

    Hope you enjoy it!

    Thanks to Golden Fool for the perk spreads.

  • July 7, 2015
    It's a great start especially for a first build. I can see two things here that need improvement. First are the images. None of them are very attention grabbing. The first image is especially important in that regard. Secondly I see much in the way of excess that can be trimmed from the build. Go through the build with a fine tooth comb and strip away everything that does not help explain the build In a concise manner.
  • July 7, 2015

    Thanks for the advice, I'll follow for my next builds! For the Images I'll try to find some idea. Would you indicate me where I exceded and wrote really too much? Always had that problem 

  • July 7, 2015
    It's hard to really point out in a mobile device, but basically you want to avoid anything that sounds redundant. Avoid fluff words meant only to pretty up a sentence. Stick to the bare minimum needed to understand the build. The reason I suggest this is because as it stands now this build write up is too long without enough to hook people long enough to read it all.
  • July 7, 2015

    I'll cut up some fluff, maybe it's more suitable for a fanfiction (but I'll never be patient enough to write one) 

    P.s. I really really like your Shadowcaster build, I think it will be my next playtrought!

  • July 8, 2015

    It's a great build. I love the character concept and it's well presented. A few grammatical tweaks, but nothing major in your writing.To add to what Curse said about presentation, it's typically best to have fanart be the first image (the "covershot", if you will), since really phenomenal screenshots are difficult to take.

    In any case, great first go and a +1 for you.

  • July 8, 2015

    Thanks! I'm glad you appreciate this build, I tought a fanart would have been good, just to enliven a bit all the presentation, but I didn't know were to find a suitable one, those on the google didn't match the "spirit" I wanted to create with the build.

    Is there a section in the forum where I can ask?

    For the grammar I know that something's wrong, I can't speak english very currently, I hope it's not a problem to understand the general sense!

  • July 8, 2015

    +1 from me. You've explained it much better, thank you. I appreciate your patience in dealing with my questions and I can see that you really thought about some of the observations I made and implemented those thoughts into the build. It, to me, has more cohesion now. Some spelling and grammar issues that are very minor. I also possess a keyboard that stubbornly refuses to type what I'm thinking. 

  • July 8, 2015

    If I habe a spare momentt when I'm dione editing my latest blog enntries, I'll take a few miynutes, if you like, and snift through your stuff for errrrors. I do't meand.

    Just teasing. LOL, the typos were on purpose. 

  • July 8, 2015

    You mortals be aware of daedric keyboards, created by Sheogorath himself! 

    Seriously, you helped me very much to write a coherent RP\backstory, pointing out some inconsistences that really needed to be cleared, so thanks